Manchester City went top of the Premier League with a controversial 2-0 win at Newcastle United on Sunday, while Liverpool kept alive their title hopes with an astonishing 5-3 victory at Stoke City.
City won at St James’ Park thanks to an early Edin Dzeko goal and a stoppage-time effort from Alvaro Negredo, but they also benefited from a contentious decision by referee Mike Jones.
The official disallowed what would have been a superb 34th-minute Newcastle equalizer from Ivorian midfielder Cheick Tiote after his 20m volley screamed into the top of Joe Hart’s net.
Jones consulted his assistant before ruling that Yoan Gouffran, standing in an offside position, had unsighted Hart, a decision that Newcastle boss Alan Pardew fiercely disputed.
The victory lifted Man City to 47 points from 21 games, one ahead of Chelsea and two clear of Arsenal, who would be back on top with a win at Aston Villa yesterday.
Liverpool are fourth on 42 points, ahead of Everton (41), Tottenham Hotspur (40) and Manchester United (37).
The outcome could have been very different if Tiote’s goal had counted. The midfielder told the BBC: “I think it was a goal and I don’t know why the referee didn’t accept it. We asked the referee to explain why he didn’t give the goal, but he didn’t say anything so we had to get on with it.”
Pardew told Sky Sports he also did not know why the goal was disallowed as he felt Hart’s vision was not impaired, but also apologized “100 percent” for his foul-mouthed touchline rant at Man City boss Manuel Pellegrini.
In the heat of the moment we had words as we managers always have. I have apologized to him. And fortunately he’s accepted,” Pardew told reporters.
Pellegrini thought Jones was right to disallow the goal, butwas critical of the referee for not sending off Newcastle’s Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, who was only shown a yellow card after hacking down Samir Nasri in the second half.
Nasri left the field on a stretcher with Pellegrini fearing the midfielder had suffered a serious injury.
At the Brittania Stadium, Liverpool raced into a 2-0 lead following an own-goal from Ryan Shawcross and a Luis Suarez strike.
The home side fought back with goals from former Liverpool players Peter Crouch and Charlie Adam, but Liverpool regained control when Steven Gerrard converted a penalty and Suarez fired home his 22nd goal of the campaign to make it 4-2.
Jon Walters pulled one back for the Potteries, but Daniel Sturridge came on to seal Liverpool’s first league win at Stoke since 2008.